Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cookies and milk -- a tradition made possible by Ruth Wakefield

iStockphoto/Thinkstock

There is no doubt that many treasured recipes came about through accidental invention in the kitchen, but we must single out one of the most enduring -- and delicious -- of these recipes: the chocolate chip cookie.

Ruth Wakefield had worked as a dietitian and food lecturer before buying an old toll house outside of Boston with her husband. Traditionally, toll houses were places weary travelers paid their road tolls, grabbed a quick bite and fed their horses. Wakefield and her husband converted the toll house into an inn with a restaurant. One day in 1930, Wakefield was baking up a batch of Butter Drop Do cookies for her guests. The recipe called for melted chocolate, but Wakefield had run out of baker's chocolate. She took a Nestle chocolate bar, crumbled it into pieces and threw it into her batter, expecting the chocolate pieces to melt during baking. Instead, the chocolate held its shape, and the chocolate chip cookie was born.

Nestle noticed that sales of its chocolate bars jumped in Mrs. Wakefield's corner of Massachusetts, so they met with her about the cookie, which was fast gaining a reputation among travelers. At Wakefield's suggestion, they began scoring their chocolate (cutting lines into the bar that allow for easier breaking) and then, in 1939, they began selling Nestle Toll House Real Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels. The Wakefield cookie recipe was printed on the back of the package; in exchange, Ruth Wakefield received free chocolate for life.

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